10 Most Expensive Accidents in History

Posted on Other Stuff 163

Accidents have been a part of life throughout our history. Some accidents are fatal while others are not. You cannot put value on injury and death that comes as a result of an accident. Life is the most precious and irreplaceable “commodity” – if we can call it that, for lack of a better term. It is something that cannot be compensated for, in the actual term. However, as much as property loss can be compensated for, accidents that affect property can be devastating. These affect time and money. Businesses have been known to have gone under due to accidents. This list looks at the 10 most expensive accidents recorded in our history. For comparison’s sake, we shall valuate these accidents in US dollar terms. For the purpose of this list, acts of war or terrorism, as well as natural disasters, do not count as accidents.

Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 ($150 Million)

Sinking of the Titanic


It was meant to be a historical feat: the biggest ship to sail the Atlantic. With all good intent, the Titanic was meant to be the ultimate and most luxurious ocean wonder. The maiden voyage was aptly designed to link Britain and the US. We all know what happened later on April 15, 1912 when the gigantic ship set sail from Southampton, in England for New York, in the US. It hit an iceberg and sunk, resulting in the loss of 1,500 people. That was a very big maritime disaster that still evokes sad memories to-date. In today’s monetary value, the Titanic cost $150 million to build, which is an equivalent of $7 million at that time!

Tanker Truck Explosion – Wiehltal Bridge, 2004 ($358 Million)

Tanker Truck Explosion – Wiehltal Bridge


Germany may have incurred a lot of costs in terms of property damage during the World War II, and besides, those were not accidents. However, the Federal Republic of Germany experienced most expensive accident on August 26, 2004 when a tanker truck hauling 32,000 liters of fuel was involved in a head-on collision with a car on the Wiehltal Bridge in Germany. The bridge was destroyed by an explosion when the truck fell 90 feet onto the A4 Autobahn after crashing through a guardrail. Preliminary repairs gobbled $40 million. When time came to replace the bridge, figures shot up to about $318 Million.

Chatsworth Train Collision, 2008 ($500 Million)

Chatsworth Train Collision


On September 12, 2008, a Union Pacific freight train collided head-on with a Metrolink commuter train in Chatsworth, in Los Angeles, California. Claiming 25 lives, this was one of California’s worst train crashes. The cause of the accident was largely blamed on the conductor of the Metrolink train who was too busy receiving messages that he did not see the red signal. Metrolink made a loss of $500 million for this accident that would have otherwise been avoided.

B-2 Bomber Crash, 2008 ($1.4 Billion)

B-2 Bomber Crash


It was on 23 February 2008 B-2 Stealth bomber – one of only 21 ever built – set off the Andersen Air Force Base runaway in Guam. The aircraft crashed as soon as it had taken off. This was reportedly due to computer data system control error. The pilot miraculously survived this accident, the most expensive in aviation history, pegged at $1.4 billion!

Exxon Valdez oil spill, 1989 ($2.5 Billion)

Exxon Valdez oil spill


In 1989, American oil giant, Exxon spent $2.5 billion in cleaning up an oil spill that was caused by the sinking of their tanker, the Exxon Valdez on March 24, 1989. This happened in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and the 11 million gallons of oil spilled polluted the waters, extending to the Gulf of Alaska.

Piper Alpha Oil Rig, 1988 ($3.4 Billion)

Deepwater Horizon rig on fire


Due to technical negligence by staff, the Piper Alpha disaster off the coast of Aberdeen claimed 167 lives of workers and cost $3.4 Billion. Then the world’s largest producer of oil, Piper Alpha Oil staff west out to carry out their routine maintenance work on the fateful July 6, 1988, and one of them forgot to replace of one the 100 safety valves. Later that night, the 300-foot platform exploded in flames.

Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion, 1986 ($5.5 Billion)

Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion


Well-recorded in our history is the fatal accident of the Challenger, the space shuttle that exploded just after 73 seconds of lifting off, killing all seven crew members, on January 28, 1986. The explosion was later discovered to be due to a mechanical fault. The 1986-1987 investigation, including the problem correction and equipment replacement all gobbled up $450 million, which is equivalent to $1 billion in today’s dollars. Replacing the shuttle cost $2 billion, about $4.5 billion today.

Prestige Oil Spill, 2002 ($12 Billion)

Prestige Oil Spill


When the Spanish, Portuguese and French governments denied the damaged Prestige Oil Tanker ship to dock on November 13, 2002, little did they know that it would result in a disastrous and costly accident. The ship had onboard 77,000 tonnes of fuel oil. As a result of a storm, the tanker split into two in Galicia, Spain, polluting the sea with 20 million gallons of oil. Cleaning the mess cost about $ 12 billion.

Space Shuttle Columbia Explosion, 2003 ($13 Billion)

Space Shuttle Columbia Explosion


On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas upon its re-entry, killing all crew on board. A hole in its wing was the cause of the accident. It is believed the hole was made during the shuttle’s launch 16 days earlier. According to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronotika Sciences, the accident gobbled $ 13 billion!

Chernobyl, 1986 ($200 Billion)



To-date, memories of this disaster are still fresh, and so are the effects. The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, Ukraine, is the worst and most devastating nuclear accident in history. It claimed about 125,000 lives as a result of cancer over time. However, the Chernobyl accident triggered the evacuation of about 200,000 people, as well as directly affected 1.7 million people.
The cost of this accident has not been placed authoritatively. However, it is estimated that $200 billion must have been spent in compensating the victims as well as transmigration and cleaning costs. It cost $2 billion to replace the steel shelter at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

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